Masaka asoko ga keiei hatan suru nante… (No way it’d go bankrupt like that…)

Situation 1: Two colleagues are talking at the office.

ヤマニ: UP社との合同プロジェクトの計画は、白紙に戻してよかったです。

大久保: はい。まさかあそこが経営破綻するなんて、正直、思っていませんでした。

Yamani: UP-sha to no gōdō purojekuto no keikaku wa, hakushi ni modoshite yokatta desu.

Ōkubo: Hai. Masaka asoko ga keiei hatan suru nante, shōjiki, omotte-imasen deshita.

Yamani: It’s a good thing we scrapped that joint project with UP Co.

Okubo: Yes. I never would have thought, honestly, that their business would’ve failed like that.

The adverb まさか, which on its own can also mean “Whaddya know?” or “No kidding,” often pairs with negative expressions in the pattern まさかX + とは思(おも)わなかった/はずはない. In this structure, it emphasizes the fact that the speaker never believed the realization of “X” was possible, like in Situation 1 when Mr. Okubo tells Ms. Yamani that he didn’t think UP Co. could have collapsed.

Another useful phrase in Situation 1 is 白紙(はくし)に戻(もど)す. It literally means “to return to the white paper,” but can be used to express the idea of scrapping everything or wiping the slate clean.

まさか、上司(じょうし)に対(たい)して、そんなことは言(い)えないよ。 (There’s no way I could say a thing like that to my boss.)

まさか彼(かれ)が来(く)るとは思わなかった。(I never thought he’d actually come.)

Situation 2: A salesman comes to Mr. Shiba’s door and tries to sell him some insurance.

セールスマン: まさかのときのために、この商品はおすすめです。特に三大疾病の保障がお得になっています。小さいお子さんもいらっしゃることですし、いかがでしょうか?

Sērusuman: Masaka no toki no tame ni, kono shōhin wa o-susume desu. Toku ni sandai-shippei no hoshō ga o-toku ni natte-imasu. Chiisai okosan mo irassharu koto desu shi, ikaga deshō ka?

Salesman: I recommend this product in case of emergencies. Specifically, it would be advantageous to have such a guarantee (in the case of) one of the three major diseases. Since you have a small child, what do you think of it?

まさか can be used to modify nouns to express the unexpected, as in まさかのとき, which means “when in a pinch” or “in case of emergency.” The proverb まさかの友(とも)が真(しん)の友 conveys the idea that a friend in an emergency is a true friend (a friend in need is a friend indeed).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Mita looks down. His colleague Mr. Sere notices and asks why.

三田(みた): 実(じつ)は、昨日(きのう)の夜(よる)彼女(かのじょ)にふられちゃったんだ。昨日、彼女が仕事(しごと)で忙(いそが)しいって言うから、ぼくは一人(ひとり)で飲(の)みに行(い)ったんだ。そうしたら、隣(となり)の席(せき)にすごくすてきな女性(じょせい)が一人で飲んでいたから、話(はな)しかけてみた。

セレ: まさか、その女性を誘(さそ)ったりしなかったよね?

三田: それが…。話しているうちにすっかり気(き)が合(あ)って…。

セレ: まさか! あきれた。

三田: そうしたら、少(すこ)し離(はな)れた席でぼくをじーっと見(み)ている女性がいるのに気がついた。ちょっとぼくに気があるのかな、なんて思ったら…。

セレ: だめだよ、三田くん。

三田: それ、彼女だったんだ。上司と一緒(いっしょ)にお得意(とくい)さんを接待(せったい)していたみたいで。彼女、ぼくのほうに歩(ある)いてきて、ぼくにワインをかけて、「あら、ごめんなさい」だって。それで、すべておしまい。

セレ: まあ、そのぐらいで終(お)わってよかった。

三田: うん、ひょっとするともっとひどいことになっていたかも。

Mita: To tell the truth, I was dumped by my girlfriend yesterday evening. Yesterday, she said she was busy at work, so I went for a drink alone. Then, a very lovely lady was drinking alone in the seat next to mine, so I talked to her.

Sere: No way, you didn’t invite the woman over, did you?

Mita: Well…. We totally hit it off while we were talking.

Sere: Get outta here! That’s insane.

Mita: And then, I noticed that there was a woman staring at me in a seat a little ways away. I wondered if she was interested in me.

Sere: That’s no good, Mita.

Mita: That (woman), it was my girlfriend. She and her boss were entertaining a client. She walked toward me, poured wine over me and said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” And then, it all came to an end.

Sere: Well, it’s good that it just ended like that.

Mita: Yeah, perhaps it could’ve been way worse.

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